Podcast on dzogchen with Malcolm Smith, it’s very good 

It explains what rigpa is. Rigpa is not mere Awareness, it’s like a state of realization, the knowledge of our basis. And not only that, it must recognise the five lights as its own state.

How ignorance is present before beginning and why and the part about the bardo states is also well explained. A good podcast. First 1/4 is more on personal introduction.

(Malcolm Smith was asked by his teacher Kunzang Dechen Lingpa to teach dzogchen but he focuses on translation work for now)

Recognition of the five lights as one's own state is what I meant by anatta and the bardo shows the importance of realizing it in the 3 states (walking, dreaming and deep sleep). Depending on the practitioner the strength of recognition may not be there even if insight may have manifested.

Also highly recommend his translation work. Seldom do we see such a serious translation. Accurate and precise.

“Buddhahood in This Life”


Wrote on facebook:

Without awareness there can be no objects, (there is no “unheard sound”) and without objects there can be no awareness, (seeing is dependently designated with “sight”) not because there are two distinctly existing things depending or interacting with each other but because they are merely dependently designated and have no existence of its own to speak of. For example you cannot speak of a sun without sunlight or a computer screen without the images, they are dependently designated and without any intrinsic existence. Just like a computer screen that doesn’t display images is not a computer screen, a knowing is labelled as such in dependence on the known, so both subject and object are severed - nondual clarity is vividly presencing as all appearances without needing to collapse subject into object or object into subject.

There is no denial of knowing known or “you” like there is no need to deny a conventional car. But if “you” or “knowing known” is just a label for vroomyumouch, just like car is merely imputed based on the parts and functions, then there is also no intrinsically (independent, changelessly) existing “you” or “car”. So you or car is not denied but simply a convenient label, so you can still use conventions but are not bound by them, just like when you talk about weather you don’t think of an entity but directly experience the rain falling wind blowing clouds forming and parting and so forth. When we say sensing we don’t get bound by subject action or object but directly sense the coolness, heat, softness and so forth.

The realisation of true mind, the luminous vivid presence is also important. But mind is no mind - empty of intrinsically existing entity. And being empty of mind, it is as dogen said,

“And just what is this wondrously pure, bright mind? It is the great earth with its mountains and rivers, along with the sun, the moon, and all the stars.”


Objects are merely conventionally and dependently designated as such. It cannot be understood apart from or excluding other conventions that make them meaningful otherwise it becomes erroneous (the same goes for everything - from self, to cars, to awareness, to whatever). A sound is not an object besides hearing, besides awareness - there is no such thing as an unheard sound. This part I believe you agree, the other part however in Buddhadharma's emptiness teaching is that awareness is also dependently designated in relation to what's experienced. So it's a two-way dependence unlike the one way dependence in Advaita. Hearer and hearing is only meaningful in reference to sound (and vice versa) - in truth there is no hearer, no hearing, no sound, the bell ringing has no subject or object -- direct immediacy of just this awareness as ringing.

But you'll interject, what about the formless consciousness that underlies and exists beneath, and in the absence of, thoughts and sensations? That pure infinite formless sense of Existence which is a mere formless sense that I AM? I too have realised that through self-inquiry a long time ago. But now I see that too is also another manifestation of consciousness, another face of Presence, no more and no less Presence than a sound, a sight, etc. It cannot be understood apart from manifestation, and apart from the conditions that defines it.

Taken from http://dogenandtheshobogenzo.blogspot.sg/2011/02/zazen-polishing-tile-to-make-mirror.html

Zazen-Only - Polishing Tiles, Making Buddhas
The perfection of each person is unique; a particular human becomes a Buddha when that human wholly becomes that particular human. The Buddhahood of an individual being is the perfection of the “integral character” of that particular being “as it is.” Zazen-only is the perfection of the “normal mind,” that is, a particular body-mind that is fully seated in and as the wholeness of its particular existence ceaselessly advancing in harmony with the true nature of its own integral character. One of the clearest of Dogen’s numerous presentations of this aspect of the Buddha Dharma is revealed in one of his masterly commentaries on a classic Zen koan.

One day when Nangaku came to Baso’s hut, Baso stood up to receive him. Nangaku asked him, “What have you been doing recently?”

Baso replied, “Recently I have been doing the practice of seated meditation exclusively.”

Nangaku asked, “And what is the aim of your seated meditation?”

Baso replied, “The aim of my seated meditation is to achieve Buddhahood.”

Thereupon, Nangaku took a roof tile and began rubbing it on a rock near Baso’s hut.

Baso, upon seeing this, asked him, “Reverend monk, what are you doing?”

Nangaku replied, “I am polishing a roof tile.”

Baso then asked, “What are you going to make by polishing a roof tile?”

Nangaku replied, “I am polishing it to make a mirror.”

Baso said, “How can you possibly make a mirror by rubbing a tile?”

Nangaku replied, “How can you possibly make yourself into a Buddha by doing seated meditation?”

For hundreds of years now, many people have held the view that, in this story, Nangaku is earnestly endeavoring to encourage Baso in his practice. This is not necessarily so, for, quite simply, the daily activities of the great saintly teacher were far removed from the realm of ordinary people. If great saintly teachers did not have the Dharma of polishing a tile, how could they possibly have the skillful means to guide people? Having the strength to guide people is the Bones and Marrow of an Ancestor of the Buddha. Even though the tile was the thing that came to hand, still, it was just an everyday, household object. If it were not an everyday object or some household utensil, then it would not have been passed on by the Buddha’s family. What is more, its impact on Baso was immediate. Be very clear about it, the functioning of the True Transmission of Buddhas and Ancestors involves a direct pointing. We should truly comprehend that when the polished tile became a mirror, Baso became Buddha. And when Baso became Buddha, Baso immediately became the real Baso. And when Baso became the real Baso, his sitting in meditation immediately became real seated meditation. This is why the saying ‘polishing a tile to make a mirror’ has been preserved in the Bones and Marrow of former Buddhas.

Thus it is that the Ancient Mirror was made from a roof tile. Even though the mirror was being polished, it was already without blemish in its unpolished state. The tile was not something that was dirty; it was polished simply because it was a tile. On that occasion, the virtue of making a Mirror was made manifest, for it was the diligent effort of an Ancestor of the Buddha. If polishing a tile did not make a Mirror, then even polishing a mirror could not have made a Mirror. Who can surmise that in this act of making, there is the making of a Buddha and there is the making of a Mirror?

Further, some may wonder, “When the Ancient Mirror is polished, can It ever be polished into a tile?” Your state of being—your breathing in and breathing out—when you are engaged in polishing is not something that you can gauge at other times. And Nangaku’s words, to be sure, express what is expressible. As a result, in the final analysis, he was able to polish a tile and make a Mirror. Even we people of the present time should try to pick up today’s ‘tile’ and give it a polish, for ultimately it will become a Mirror. If a tile could not become a Mirror, people could not become Buddha. If we belittle tiles as being lumps of clay, we will also belittle people as being lumps of clay. If people have a Heart, then tiles too will have a Heart. Who can recognize that there is a Mirror in which, when a tile comes, the Tile appears? And who can recognize that there is a Mirror in which, when a mirror comes, the Mirror appears?
Shobogenzo, Kokyo, Hubert Nearman

The "ancient mirror" is the Buddha mind; more specifically, it is an aspect or quality of the Buddha mind that is traditionally referred to as the "universal mirror prajna." The “universal mirror prajna” is the first of the “four prajna's (or “cognitions”) of Buddhahood.” This prajna is described as the aspect of mind that, like a mirror, perfectly reflects the world as it is in the immediate present – the world in its ‘thusness.’ Unlike an ordinary mirror, this prajna is not only reflective, it is also luminescent. It is the initial realization of this “prajna” (or “cognition”) that is traditionally regarded as the practitioners entrance into awakening (often called "kensho" in Zen).

Dogen’s commentary on the koan illumines the same principle informing his teaching that “clear seeing is prajna itself” – here the principle is formulated as “when the polished tile became a mirror Baso became Buddha.”

A “tile” is only a tile by virtue of being experienced as a mind-form unity (dharma) as it is. In the koan, “Baso” is only Baso (his true self; Buddha) by virtue of experiencing mind-forms as they are. When “the tile became a mirror Baso became Baso” – Baso became Baso (his true self; Buddha) when the tile became a mirror (its true self; a mind-form). Moreover, because the mirror (that which verifies) is never separate from the tile (that which is verified), the mirror (Baso) was actualized as a real mirror (the real Baso) by virtue of experiencing the tile.

In terms of the prajna paramita literature, tile and mirror (forms) is emptiness, Baso is Buddha, emptiness is tile and mirror, Buddha is Baso; therefore, emptiness is emptiness, tile is tile, mirror is mirror, Buddha is Buddha, Baso is Baso. When Baso is Baso the whole universe is solely Baso; when zazen is zazen, the whole universe is solely sitting.

In Dogen’s view, the only reality is reality that is actually experienced as particular things at specific times. There is no “tile nature” apart from actual “tile forms,” there is no “essential Baso” apart from actual instances of “Baso experience.” When Baso sits in zazen, “zazen” becomes zazen, and “Baso” becomes Baso. Real instances of Baso sitting in zazen is real instances of Baso and real instances of zazen – when Baso eats rice, Baso is really Baso and eating rice is really eating rice.
I like this quote but does anyone know who translated it and the source of that text?

Subhuti asked: "Is perfect wisdom beyond thinking? Is it unimaginable and totally unique but nevertheless reaching the unreachable and attaining the unattainable?"

The Buddha replied: "Yes, Subhuti, it is exactly so. And why is perfect wisdom beyond thinking? It is because all its points of reference cannot be thought about but can be apprehended. One is the disappearance of the self-conscious person into pure presence. Another is the knowing of the essenceless essence of all things in the world. And another is luminous knowledge that knows without a knower. None of these points can sustain ordinary thought because they are not objects or subjects. They can't be imagined or touched or approached in any way by any ordinary mode of consciousness, therefore they are beyond thinking."
"Bodhidharma asked, "Can each of you say something to demonstrate your understanding?"
Dao Fu stepped forward and said, "It is not bound by words and phrases, nor is it separate from words and phrases. This is the function of the Tao."
Bodhidharma: "You have attained my skin."
The nun Zong Chi[note 6][note 7] stepped up and said, "It is like a glorious glimpse of the realm of Akshobhya Buddha. Seen once, it need not be seen again."
Bodhidharma; "You have attained my flesh."
Dao Yu said, "The four elements are all empty. The five skandhas are without actual existence. Not a single dharma can be grasped."
Bodhidharma: "You have attained my bones."
Finally, Huike came forth, bowed deeply in silence and stood up straight.
Bodhidharma said, "You have attained my marrow." [38]"

To find a buddha, all you have to do is see your nature. Your nature is the buddha. And the buddha is the person who's free, free of plans, free of cares. If you don't see your nature and run around all day looking somewhere else, you'll never find a buddha. The truth is there's nothing to find. Life and death are important. Don't suffer them in vain. There's no advantage in deceiving yourself. Even if you have mountains of jewels and as many servants as there are grains of sand along the Ganges, you see them when your eyes are open. But what about when your eyes are shut? You should realize that everything you see is like a dream or illusion.

Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware. Responding, perceiving, arching your brows, blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, it's all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the buddha. And the buddha is the path. And the path is zen. But the word zen is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages. Seeing your nature is zen. Unless you see your nature, it's not zen.

Bodhidharma (440-528)
Jamgon Mipham:

Accordingly, in the case of a beginner, it is possible for mere nonexistence (med rkyang tsam), the negation of truly existent phenomena, to arise as a mental object. But a person whose Madhyamaka investigation has hit the mark will perfectly distinguish the difference between the lack of inherent existence and mere nonexistence; and will be quite certain that a phenomenon's lack of inherent existence is inseparable from its dependent arising. Such an extraordinary mode of apprehension indeed acts as an antidote to the precipitous extremes of both substantialism and nihilism. For as long as, according to one's mode of apprehension, one is either refuting things or establishing them, one is not actually in the nature beyond all conceptual extremes. When, with reasoned analysis, one arrives at the certainty that phenomena do not dwell in any of the four extremes, and when one settles evenly in the dharmadhatu, by way of the self-cognizing primordial wisdom, this will have the power to dispel all conceptual constructs. Thus one will gain confidence in ultimate reality, in 'which there are no misconceptions to dispel and no progress to make. One will have confidence in the genuine meaning of "freedom from mental activity" as explained in the Prajnaparamita-sutra.